STEVE RICHARDS WINS FINAL SURFERS STREET FIGHT EARNING FPR A TOP FIVE ROUND FINISH Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has recovered from a weekend that saw both FPR Falcon drivers Steve Richards and Mark Winterbottom involved in race one accidents...
STEVE RICHARDS WINS FINAL SURFERS STREET FIGHT EARNING FPR A TOP FIVE ROUND FINISH
Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has recovered from a weekend that saw both FPR Falcon drivers Steve Richards and Mark Winterbottom involved in race one accidents that relegated them to the rear of the field for today's two 27 lap street races, to earn a top five finish for the round thanks to a superb race three victory by Steve Richards, his first race win in the Castrol FPR Falcon for the 2007 season.
After the disappointment of losing Pole position (Mark Winterbottom) due to a technical infringement on Friday, Saturday's opening race saw Winterbottom race from 31st and last on the starting grid to 13th position when he was crashed into by Mark Skaife with just two corners remaining in the race, relegating him out of the points in 20th place. Richards retired from that race with two laps to go after sustaining terminal suspension damage after an unavoidable accident with Jason Bright.
In today's second race of the round, Richards raced from 25th on the starting grid to finish 5th, combining impressive car speed with a super fast pit stop. After gaining five positions in the race to the first chicane, Richards' fantastic run through the field saw him set the second fastest lap of the race, forming a truly remarkable recovery from the rear of the field. Winterbottom made the most of a car which required more than 12 hours of repair work overnight following his race one accident. Starting from 20th on the grid, the 26 year old FPR Falcon driver also made up five positions at the start, but was hit in the rear causing damage to a rear panel that required a compulsory (mechanical black flag) pit stop for repairs on lap 6. This dropped the FPR Falcon driver from 13th to 24th and after spending the rest of the race in a bumper to bumper battle with Holden rival Rick Kelly, he finished in 17th place.
The third and final race of the round saw Richards race strongly in 5th position, passing Ford rival Russell Ingall after a multi-lap chase on lap 6. An early Safety Car caution period proved opportune for FPR, with Richards and Winterbottom making the most of two three second pit stops to emerge 4th and 14th for the remainder of the race. After passing Greg Murphy on the tenth lap, Richards powered into the top three and the remaining pit stop sequence for the leaders saw him take the race lead on the 11th lap. Richards powered away from the field with ease until the second Safety Car appeared on lap 17 of 27. The final ten lap sprint saw Richards command the remainder of the race, taking the chequered flag 2.5 seconds ahead of Holden driver Jason Richards, with Ford's Russell Ingall third. Winterbottom made the most of preserving his brakes for the final ten lap run to the finish to work his way up to 5th position, avoiding some late race carnage involving Jamie Whincup and Jason Bargwanna to finish 5th.
Garth Tander won races one and two, earning him the round victory ahead of Russell Ingall and Jason Richards. The weekend's results earned Steve Richards' 5th overall for the round, with Winterbottom 14th. Richards is now 6th and Winterbottom 8th in the Championship standings after Round 11.
#6 Steve Richards - "We had good car speed today and it shows what we are capable of achieving. It is great to win my first race with FPR after two round podiums so far. We actually torched a set of tyres yesterday so we only had eight tyres to use for both of today's races. If we had that extra set, I am sure that we would have been even faster today. The only issue was that the tyres were a bit cold on the re-start which made me vulnerable for a little while, but as the tyres normalised I was able to easily control the pace of the race. We are in great form for the rest of the season and it is excellent to see the team get some reward for a very hardworking weekend."
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "It was a very good feeling to know what its like to finish a race again with all of the car's panels on! The car was very good and once I got out on my own it was easy to set fast lap times. It shows that track position is vital here. We had a pretty depressing run this weekend, but to race from 17th to 5th in the third race was a strong result and we go to Bahrain full of confidence to try and win the round."
FPR Team Principal, Tim Edwards - "It was great to salvage some dignity out of the weekend - it was a particularly fantastic for Steve to take the race three win after starting from so far back this morning, an outstanding performance. Mark managed to gain a great result as well given the circumstances of today's races. Our car speed has been strong at the last three rounds and there is no doubt that we have fantastic cars, engines, pit crew and drivers. We just need to tidy up a few mistakes so we can win some rounds in the remainder of the season."
As mentioned Richards' race three victory was his first with FPR and the first for the blue oval team in the state of Queensland. It was also the Prodrive team's 8th V8 Supercar victory.
FPR now faces four days of work to prepare both cars for air freighting to the Kingdom of Bahrain to defend the Prodrive team's Champion status at Round 13 of the V8 Supercar Championship to be held at the spectacular Bahrain International Circuit from November 1 to 3.